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Junk drawer organized with dividers

How to Declutter Common Problem Areas Around the House

We all have common spots in our homes where clutter collects more easily—garages, linen closets, storage rooms, and the ever-messy junk drawer. If you’re tired of dealing with clutter in these spaces, these home decluttering tips can help you tackle the 11 most common problem areas around the house!

  • Junk Drawer
  • Surfaces
  • Pantry
  • Refrigerator & Freezer
  • Under the Sink
  • Medicine Cabinet
  • Linen Closet
  • Bedroom Closet
  • Playroom
  • Storage Room
  • Garage

How to Declutter the Junk Drawer

Organized junk drawer with assorted items like tape and scissors. Photo by Instagram user @blissonbeech

Photo via @blissonbeech

To create a functional “junk drawer”—that is, the drawer where you typically keep scissors, pens, notepads, phone chargers, and other miscellaneous items—you need to get rid of items you don’t use and then organize the drawer in an intentional way. Everything needs to have a place in this drawer for it to be organized.

  • Take stock of what you store here and how often you actually need those items. Discard anything that’s broken, a duplicate, or non-essential.
  • Create rules about what is and isn’t allowed in the drawer. For example, if you use a miscellaneous item frequently and need it in an accessible place, this is a good item for the junk drawer.
  • Organize your junk drawer with dividers that neatly fill the drawer. You can also use drawer organizers, muffin tins, ice cube trays, or makeup trays for junk drawer organization.

How to Declutter Surfaces

Tabletops, countertops, and nightstand surfaces collect all kinds of random items throughout your home, which can make rooms look more cluttered than they are. A great way to cut clutter quickly is by removing the items you have on flat surfaces and limiting how many items can be kept on each surface.

  • Take note of which items tend to pile up on the surfaces in your home, then designate a special place for those items to be kept or stored.
  • Limit the number of decorative items allowed on each surface to three or four pieces. Use decorative trays to group items together. This will make surfaces seem deliberately designed rather than cluttered.
  • Store books, magazines, and paper documents away from surfaces. Move books and magazines onto shelves or racks, and use binders or file folders to store bills, notes, and other important documents.
  • If you decorate for holidays, remove everyday decorations and store them while the holiday decorations are on display. This can help you keep clutter to a minimum.

How to Declutter the Pantry

Pantry organized with storage containers and glass canisters. Photo by Instagram user @azhouseoforder

Photo via @azhouseoforder

Without a purposeful storage and organization system, your pantry is bound to become cluttered with random kitchen appliances, canned goods, boxed foods, spices, and more. Organizing this small problem area with functional pantry storage that’s easy to maintain can make cooking and meal prep less frustrating.

  • Sort through your pantry before you go to the store to keep expired items and take inventory of what you have. Double-check your grocery list to make sure you don’t add any duplicates.
  • Use airtight plastic or glass containers to store dry pantry items like pasta, rice, cereal, flour, oatmeal, and sugar. Write the expiration date on the back of the container with a washable marker.
  • Remove pre-packaged food items from larger boxes and store them in wicker or wire baskets. This can help you find items more easily and grab them on the go.
  • Every time you deep clean your kitchen, take a few extra minutes to dust, wipe down the shelves, and get rid of expired food in your pantry. Doing so on a regular basis can help keep the pantry organized.
  • Consider setting limits on how long an item can sit in the pantry. For instance, any non-perishable items you don’t eat within a couple months should be donated to your local food bank.

How to Declutter the Refrigerator & Freezer

Neatly organized fridge that uses plastic bins. Photo by Instagram user @livecomposed

Photo via @livecomposed

Constantly knocking things over when you reach for something in the back of the fridge? Tired of throwing away bags of salad every week because you forgot about them? Don’t know what’s hidden deep in your freezer? An organized fridge and freezer can help prevent food waste and make finding items easier.

  • Before you go grocery shopping, take stock of what’s already in your fridge and freezer and toss out any expired foods. This can help prevent waste and buying more than you need.
  • Use clear acrylic storage bins to maximize available storage space. Group similar items together like veggies, herbs, fruits, cheeses, and lunch meats.
  • Store condiments, sauces, and other jars on a turntable to avoid having to dig through your fridge to find something in the back and prevent items from being forgotten about for months.
  • Store leftovers in clear, stackable food containers so you can see what’s inside. Clear out any unused leftovers every weekend to avoid clutter in the fridge.
  • Use freezer-safe storage containers to group similar items like red meat, chicken, or kid-friendly foods in your freezer. Store food with the earliest expiration date in front so you use it first.
  • Take note of things that tend to go bad in your house often. This will help you decide which perishable items should go straight into the freezer, bought in smaller quantities, or removed from your grocery list.

How to Declutter Under the Sink

Under-the-sink storage is common in kitchens and bathrooms, but it’s also one of the easiest places to accumulate clutter because it’s often dark, cramped, and out of sight. By decluttering and organizing the space under the sink, you can get more functional storage in kitchens and bathrooms.

  • Designate the under-the-sink area for specific types of items, such as kitchen cleaning supplies, so it doesn’t turn into a catch-all for items you just want out of the way.
  • Consolidate beauty products or cleaning supplies if you have some that are half-empty or nearly empty. This can help you better maximize available storage space.
  • Use plastic containers or bins to store products and supplies. That way, you can pull bins out like a drawer rather than digging around in the cabinet for what you need.
  • Regularly refill your chosen storage containers or bins and discard any additional packaging the products come in immediately after purchasing.
  • Eliminate dead space by using stackable plastic drawers for things like dishwasher pods, sponges, wash rags, or air freshener refills. Also, consider adding hooks on the back of cabinet doors to hang items.

How to Declutter the Medicine Cabinet

Do items fall out of your medicine cabinet every time you open the door? Maintaining a decluttered, well-organized medicine cabinet will come in handy if you need to find a specific medicine quickly and can help you keep track of what’s expired and what needs to be restocked.

  • Sort through everything in the cabinet, identify any expired medicine or old prescriptions, and safely dispose of them. It’s good to regularly examine and clean the space, too.
  • Use storage baskets or turntables to help with medicine cabinet organization. Make sure they’re labeled and fit easily inside of the cabinet.
  • If you buy more of a certain over-the-counter medicine like cough syrup or aspirin before the previous box or bottle is empty, consolidate. This prevents duplicates from cluttering the cabinet.
  • Create an organization system based on what you use and how often so you don’t just cram medicines, bandages, and ointments wherever they can fit. Store similar medications together.
  • Use a separate bin to store first-aid supplies. Regularly refill commonly used items like bandages or antibiotic ointments so they’re always ready at a moment’s notice.
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How to Declutter the Linen Closet

The main reason why linen closets get so cluttered is that there’s simply too much stuff kept in them—and they occasionally become a catch-all for random items. By limiting the number of towels, bedsheets, toiletries, and home supplies you keep in your linen closet, you can avoid clutter filling up this space.

  • Purge any non-essential or old linens. You really only need one extra set of sheets per bed in your house and a few extra towels per person.
  • Organize your linens by categories for optimal linen closet organization. Most-used linens should be stored on an easy-to-reach shelf. Store decorative or holiday linen on top shelves.
  • Fold towels and bed linens using techniques like the KonMari basic folding method, which can help you maximize shelf or basket space when storing linens in the closet.
  • Avoid overstocking your closet. Store extra toiletries or cleaning supplies in a basket on the bottom shelf. Try to use everything in the basket before purchasing new products.
  • Any time you buy new linens or towels, purge the old ones. Constantly cycling out old linens for new linens helps prevent clutter buildup over time.

How to Declutter the Bedroom Closet

A nicely organized white closet with shoes and clothes. Photo by Instagram user @bymeghang

Photo via @bymeghang

There are tons of ways to organize your closet, but first, you should start by decluttering your clothing and accessories. This can help you create a wardrobe stocked with your staple and favorite pieces and make it easier to find clothing and accessories in a pinch!

  • Set up your wardrobe with designated spots for your favorite timeless pieces that are versatile and make you feel confident. Donate any items you no longer want, don’t fit, or haven’t worn in over a year.
  • Set a personal limit on the number of sentimental items you hold onto to avoid buildup. Decide the maximum number of items you can keep within each clothing category.
  • Hang as many clothes as you can. Neatly fold anything you cannot hang like jeans or thick sweaters. Organize your clothes by categories (e.g., work clothes, exercise clothes, casual clothes).
  • Use a shoe rack for shoe storage so you can easily see and find what pair of shoes you need in a moment. Organize your shoe rack by separating shoes into seasons or types.
  • Make it a habit to declutter and reorganize your closet every time the season changes or every time you buy new clothes. This can help you avoid accumulating items you don’t need.

How to Declutter the Playroom

Kids rooms are always tricky to declutter and organize because there are often lots of small items that don’t have designated storage places. With intentional organization and frequent decluttering, you can keep kids bedrooms and playrooms free of clutter so that you’re not having to spend hours cleaning.

  • Regularly go through toys to get rid of any duplicate toys or throw away broken toys. Donate any toys in good shape that your kids no longer play with or have outgrown.
  • Set a limit for how many toys kids can have in their play area. You can also use a one-in, one-out rule with toys to avoid clutter and get kids into a habit of keeping their space tidy.
  • Consider rotating toys. Rotating toys means you won’t have all of your kids toys in the playroom at once, reducing the potential for clutter. Keep toys not currently out in labeled plastic storage tubs.
  • Create a “home” for everything to make cleanup time easier for little ones. Use baskets or bins in cubby shelves to store toys where kids can reach them easily.

How to Declutter the Storage Room

When things are out of sight, they’re out of mind. The storage room is the go-to place for overflow items, miscellaneous furniture, and holiday decorations, which means clutter is common in this space. By going removing things you no longer need and organizing everything, you can avoid clutter and find things faster!

  • After each season, sort through decorations you didn’t use and donate them. Don’t save sentimental items if you never use them. Instead, consider gifting them to a family member who will.
  • Use clear, stackable containers so you can see what’s inside when stored against a wall or on shelves. Label all bins with what’s inside, especially if they’re not clear.
  • Group similar items together and create sections. One section of your storage room could be for holiday decorations; another section could be for travel gear.
  • Create an organization system where you store the most-used items front and center in easily accessible spots. Store seasonal items up higher on shelves or farther back in the room.
  • If you don’t already have shelves in your storage room, wire or plastic shelves are an easy-to-assemble, sturdy option to help declutter your space, create organization, and improve maneuverability.

How to Declutter the Garage

Similar to storage rooms, the garage tends to be a catch-all for items not yet ready to be thrown out or given away. Organizing the garage can help end the days of tripping over baseball bags and bikes when you get out of your car, and it can help prevent the clutter from building up in the first place.

  • Get rid of any old sports equipment, broken holiday decorations, and unused yard tools. Donate items that have been untouched or are in good shape.
  • Categorize items for storage and keep them in clear storage bins. Store bins on garage storage shelves, and don’t forget to label the bins so that you can find what you need quickly.
  • Hang shovels, rakes, and brooms on the wall to maximize vertical storage space. Try a DIY pegboard with designated spots for hanging tools if you don’t have a workbench with storage drawers.
  • Store bikes, scooters, strollers, or lawn equipment close to the garage door for easy access. Use a sports equipment organizer to store balls, bats, rackets, and more.
  • Utilize hooks and shoe storage racks if your garage doubles as a mudroom to prevent boots and coats from piling up in aisles or close to the door.

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